USPS admits to spying on Americans' social media posts: report

Business

New York Post 28 April, 2021 - 04:54pm 63 views

By Natalie O'Neill

April 28, 2021 | 5:54pm | Updated April 28, 2021 | 5:55pm

The US Postal Service admitted Wednesday to spying on Americans’ social media posts — including ones made by right-wing protest groups, according to a report.

USPS Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale confirmed to lawmakers that the agency is running a shadowy operation dubbed the Internet Covert Operations Program, which tracks “inflammatory” posts on Facebook, Parler and other sites, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-South Carolina) told The Daily Mail.

Barksdale told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that the initiative has netted no arrests and will continue despite privacy concerns, which arose after the program was revealed publicly last week, the outlet reported.

Barksdale said the operation — which reports threatening posts to local and federal law enforcement — is overseen by a USPS executive. But he claimed it’s not a real “program” because it’s “incident-related,” not an ongoing initiative, according to the outlet.

Instead of shutting it down, he said the USPS will simply stop releasing a government bulletin about the operation, which last week led to the surveillance program being exposed by Yahoo News.

“The Chief Postal Inspector was wildly unprepared for this briefing,” Mace said.

She said he couldn’t provide a date for when the operation began, or how much money is being spent on it.

Barksdale also declined to say which government agencies are coordinating with USPS on the operation, according to Mace.

The House Oversight meeting was called by lawmakers last week after documents revealed that the law enforcement branch of the USPS had targeted protest groups, including the Proud Boys.

On March 16, a government bulletin was sent from the US Postal Service to the Department of Homeland Security,  warning about the World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy, which was planned by Q-Anon-linked groups in Washington, DC, on March 20.

“Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts,” the bulletin states. “No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats.”

Read full article at New York Post

PMG DeJoy criticizes mailing industry, USPS in scathing letter

Linn's Stamp News 28 April, 2021 - 10:01pm

In a sharply critical critique of the mailing industry, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said the United States Postal Service is “incapable of providing the American people with consistent, predictable service.”

That statement came from the embattled postal chief as he sought to rebut arguments from commercial mailers that his 10-year plan to rescue the financially troubled federal agency is seriously flawed.

In a three-page letter dated April 19, DeJoy blamed mailers for tolerating the Postal Service’s flawed service “for well over a decade.”

He rejected their demands that he halt the 10-year plan and said the agency’s mail delivery problems this year only illustrate the severity of the Postal Service’s problems.

“For well over a decade, all parties have tolerated an unsustainable status quo, in which the Postal Service loses billions of dollars a year, lacks the means to adequately invest in its infrastructure, fails to achieve its service performance targets or operate with precision and defaults on its legal obligations,” he said.

While DeJoy acknowledged he has apologized for the slow mail service, he said the delays only “dramatically demonstrated our system was woefully unprepared to respond to the extreme conditions of the [COVID-19] pandemic.”

Although previous postmasters general have warned Congress that the agency’s business model is broken, none have publicly decried the Postal Service’s operations as pointedly as DeJoy did.

“ ... We must acknowledge that the root causes did not happen overnight, but instead are the product of the sustained and cumulative failure on the part of all postal stakeholders to engage and address our long-standing and well-known problems,” DeJoy said.

“It is time that we all stop accepting the current situation and get to the business of actually fixing things,” he said.

DeJoy’s letter was a response to an April 15 letter from 18 mail industry organizations.

In their letter to DeJoy, the organizations pleaded with him to suspend his Delivering for America plan.

Chief among their concerns was the Postal Service’s failure to issue the plan “without specific, direct, meaningful consultation with, or substantive input from, the customers who fund the postal service.”

The groups, which are among the country’s largest mailing organizations, said they account for 90 percent of the agency’s revenues.

Their letter offered support for some aspects of DeJoy’s plan.

“Easiest to agree upon” was shifting postal retirees to depending on Medicare as their primary insurance, the letter said.

But the mailers voiced concern that the plan depends on package growth to increase revenues, an idea that could be vexed by “the continued evolution of the package shipping marketplace” and more private shippers jumping into the competition.

They also complained the plan has a “troubling fixation on punitive price increases” that they claimed “would create havoc in the mail industry.”

The mailers said that the plan is “silent on reducing” labor costs, which typically account for 70 percent of the agency’s annual spending,

They also objected to changing service standards to add two days to mail deliveries that are now supposed to be made in three days, saying they could find no merit in the change.

Even so, the mailers said that “despite our concerns, we remain ready to participate in a collaborative approach to ensuring the survival of the Postal Service.”

While DeJoy flatly rejected their call to suspend his 10-year plan, he did welcome their ideas — up to a point.

“Deflection, deferral and delay have resulted in the situation that we find ourselves in today and will only result in the continued perpetuation and exacerbation of the Postal Service’s unsustainable status quo,” he said.

“Bluntly put, the problems facing the Postal Service are not going away and kicking them further down the road is not the solution,” he said. “It is time that we face our problems and deal with them.”

Packages are “a core component of our mission” DeJoy said, adding that letter mail remains a “vital part of our mission.”

“While some mail will be subject to slightly longer service standards, the truth is that we have not been able to meet the current standards for many years and we have no reasonable prospect of ever meeting them,” he said.

The exchange of letters was made public by the Association for Postal Commerce, which included them in its April 22 newsletter.

'A Slap in the Face': Postal Union Slams DeJoy Plan to Close Mail Processing Facilities

Common Dreams 28 April, 2021 - 10:01pm

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"Plant consolidations are a misguided strategy that not only disrupts the lives of postal workers but will further delay mail."

Postmaster General Louis Dejoy speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on February 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images)

The 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union reacted with outrage Tuesday to news that USPS management is moving ahead with a plan to consolidate 18 mail processing facilities as part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's sweeping overhaul of delivery operations.

Mark Dimondstein, the president of APWU, said in a statement that the union has "made crystal clear to postal management that any further plant consolidations are a misguided strategy that not only disrupts the lives of postal workers but will further delay mail."

"After a year of courageous and essential frontline work in this pandemic," Dimondstein added, "management's actions are a slap in the face of postal workers."

Months after his operational changes caused significant mail slowdowns and sparked nationwide backlash, DeJoy unveiled a 10-year strategy that Democratic lawmakers decried as a plan to further degrade USPS performance and ensure that the beloved government agency remains in a "death spiral."

Part of DeJoy's plan includes restarting mail processing plant consolidations and closures that were halted in 2015 amid pushback from lawmakers, APWU, and others. As Eric Katz of Government Executive reported Tuesday, "USPS is moving forward with its facility consolidations despite a 2018 inspector general report that found USPS realized just 5% of the $1.6 billion in savings it had projected from the consolidations."

"The agency successfully shuttered 141 plants in the first phase of its plan, but pulled the plug on its second phase to close an additional 82 plants when it was halfway through," Katz noted. "Lawmakers at the time pleaded with postal management to suspend the plan—which would have cost thousands of jobs and further reduced delivery standards—and USPS ultimately agreed."

Calling the previous round of plant closures "a complete failure," Dimondstein vowed that "we will fight back facility-by-facility and community-by-community to save these processing plants."

In a statement announcing the new consolidations and other operational changes—including the continued removal of letter- and flat-sorting equipment—the Postal Service vowed that the moves "will not result in employee layoffs." But APWU was not remotely satisfied with that pledge.

"Management as of yet has not provided the union any impact statements on how these changes will affect the workforce, whether there is any planned excessing of employees, or whether some of these facilities will be 'repurposed' to address the changing mail mix," the organization said. "APWU stands ready to defend the jobs and livelihoods of postal workers and the prompt, reliable, and efficient mail service the law requires and the people of the country deserve."

"After a year of courageous and essential frontline work in this pandemic, management’s actions are a slap in the face of postal workers.” #SaveThePostOffice https://t.co/1qQB7t7UIL

— APWU National (@APWUnational) April 27, 2021

DeJoy is pressing forward with his agenda as Democratic lawmakers continue to urge President Joe Biden to replace the entire Postal Service Board of Governors, a move that could pave the way for the postmaster general's removal. The board, which has maintained its public support for DeJoy throughout his scandal-plagued 10 months in charge, is currently filled with officials nominated by former President Donald Trump.

"The entire board and then Mr. DeJoy should be handed their walking papers," Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) told the Washington Post last week. "Their unquestioning support for this postmaster general is unacceptable."

But Biden, who does not have the authority to fire DeJoy on his own, has thus far resisted taking such a sweeping step, opting instead to advance nominees to fill the board's three existing vacancies. Those nominees—two Democrats and one Independent—sat for their first confirmation hearing on April 22.

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USPS admits it is spying on Americans by monitoring their social media

msnNOW 28 April, 2021 - 10:01pm

The U.S. Postal Service admitted during a Wednesday meeting to spying on citizens with its law enforcement arm, claiming it worked with other agencies to track Americans' social media posts.

Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale briefed lawmakers on the Oversight Committee regarding the program known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, but could not provide a date for when it was initiated.

'The Chief Postal Inspector was wildly unprepared for this briefing,' GOP Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina told DailyMail.com following the meeting with Barksdale.

The inspector was called for a briefing after iCOP was first made public in a report last week.

Yahoo obtained and published documents related to iCOP, which includes an operation where analysts page through social media sites to look for 'inflammatory' posts, including messages about planned protests.

Mace said Barksdale revealed the program has not led to any arrests thought it's still unclear how long it has been operating. 

'Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,' a March 16 government bulletin, marked as 'law enforcement sensitive', reads. 

The bulletin focuses on a March 20 protest, the World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy which demonstrated against COVID lockdowns. 

'Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts,' it continues, but later notes: 'No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats.'

Barksdale told the Oversight Committee that while the operation would continue, they would put an end to the bulletin.

The bulletin, distributed through the Department of Homeland Security's fusion centers, includes screenshots of posts from Facebook, Parler, Telegram and other social media sites about the protests.

It does not appear any of the posts from the bulletin, including one from an alleged Proud Boy, contain any threatening language.

Individuals, who were mentioned by name and other identifying information.

Former President Donald Trump and his allies continue to push claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election – specifically in relation to the mass amounts of mail-in ballots due to increased remote voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Mace, who serves on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, revealed that Barksdale claims iCOP isn't a real 'program' at USPS because it's 'incident-related' not an ongoing matter, but the social media operation is being overseen by an 'executive.'

Barksdale also said he doesn't know how much money is being allocated for the spying initiative, Mace said, and would not say during the briefing which agencies are coordinating with USPS.

The USPS was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In August 2020 it reported losing $2.2 billion in the three months that ended in June.  

When reached about the law enforcement arm of USPS, the US Postal Inspection Service told Yahoo: 'The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the primary law enforcement, crime prevention, and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service.'

'As such, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has federal law enforcement officers, Postal Inspectors, who enforce approximately 200 federal laws to achieve the agency's mission: protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail.

They added: 'The Internet Covert Operations Program is a function within the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which assesses threats to Postal Service employees and its infrastructure by monitoring publicly available open source information,.

'Additionally, the Inspection Service collaborates with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to proactively identify and assess potential threats to the Postal Service, its employees and customers, and its overall mail processing and transportation network.

'In order to preserve operational effectiveness, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service does not discuss its protocols, investigative methods, or tools.'

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USPS official confirms covert social media tracking operation, lawmaker says

Fox Business 28 April, 2021 - 06:49pm

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Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., joins 'Kennedy' to discuss bill aimed at stopping the U.S. government's data collection

A Republican representative who met with USPS Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale on Wednesday said Barksdale confirmed the agency is combing through Americans’ social media posts for a covert intelligence mission.

In a statement to FOX Business, a spokesperson for South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace confirmed that Barksdale said during the briefing that USPS analysts search through social media posts, which is said to be part of a cover mission known as iCOP (Internet Covert Operations Program).

Barksdale also verified that iCOP exists, which was first reported by The Daily Mail.,

Mace's office told FOX Business that no arrests had been made based on the information collected thus far.

Barksdale indicated the program would continue, according to The Daily Mail. He was reportedly unable to provide lawmakers with details as to how much is spent on the initiative or when it began.

As previously reported by FOX Business, the United States Postal Inspection Service is an "elite police force" that "enforces over 200 federal statutes related to crimes that involve the postal system, its employees, and its customers."

Yahoo News first reported that the group is carrying out a program called iCOP, whereby USPS analysts are said to scroll through social media accounts on the lookout for "inflammatory" posts, which are then transmitted across other government agencies.

A spokesperson for the agency confirmed in a statement to FOX Business last week that the group reviews "publicly available information" as it searches out threats to its personnel, customers and network.

"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service occasionally reviews publicly available information in order to assess potential safety or security threats to Postal Service employees, facilities, operations and infrastructure," the spokesperson said.

Among the items listed on the Postal Inspection Service’s website under its "scope" are illegal narcotics, mail theft, identity theft, mail fraud, suspicious mail, disaster response, money laundering, cybercrime and child exploitation.

Reporting about the initiative drew the attention of lawmakers, who penned a letter to USPS Postmaster Louis DeJoy last week demanding answers.

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U.S. Postal Service to consolidate 18 facilities, leading to concerns over mail delays

Yahoo News 28 April, 2021 - 06:08pm

Advocates of rural communities also expressed concern that plant consolidation plans could create problems for farmers who rely on livestock deliveries.

The 18 mail processing centers that are being consolidated are located throughout the country, including plants in Erie, Pennsylvania; Wausau, Wisconsin; Huntsville, Alabama; Gainesville, Florida; Newburgh, New York; Paducah, Kentucky; and Seattle, according to the American Postal Workers Union, or APWU. The APWU said mail previously directed to those plants will be redirected to other facilities.

In a statement to NBC News, the USPS said it is "looking to repurpose" the centers being consolidated.

Kim Frum, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, said in a statement that the restructuring has been talked about since 2015 and that it is part of a larger plan to boost efficiency. Frum said that the consolidations will be completed by November and that they "will lead to more efficient and reliable performance in our plants."

But veteran postal workers said the consolidations mean mail in some regions will be rerouted to facilities that could take additional hours to reach by truck.

Related: “Postal banking is an elegant solution that would provide the USPS upwards of $9 billion a year in revenue and would address the high cost of being poor in America,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said.

"These consolidations are going to lead to further mail delays," said Lori Cash, a 23-year veteran of the Postal Service, who is president of the APWU's Western New York Area Local. "This consolidation plan is going to create hardships, especially for our smaller rural communities. They are always the ones that get hit. Some of these consolidations are going to mean rerouting mail to distances up to two hours away, and you're looking at an additional one-day, two-day, three-day service change in our delivery."

Cash noted that, according to the plans, New York's Mid-Hudson postal sorting facility in Newburgh will be consolidated with the Albany postal sorting facility 90 minutes away. That means, Cash said, that letters previously processed in Newburgh might now be on trucks for an additional 90 minutes to get to their new sorting destination in Albany, which could delay delivery.

The consolidation of two plants in Wisconsin could result in similar delays, critics said. According to the APWU, the mail processing plant in Wausau will be consolidated with the facility in Green Bay, nearly 100 miles away. That is a two-hour drive by truck.

Mark Dimondstein, president of the APWU, said he worries that the consolidation plans will further strain the mail delivery system in multiple regions.

"Previous plant closures and consolidations were a complete failure that only cut service, slowed down mail and disrupted workers' lives," Dimondstein said in a statement. "The past year has shown that the public relies on postal workers and they deserve the prompt reliable and efficient service promised them under the law. Additional plant consolidations will only hurt postal workers and customers alike. Postal management should instead focus on restoring the quality service that the people deserve."

Matt Hildreth, executive director of RuralOrganizing.org, a rural advocacy group based in Columbus, Ohio, said: "Rural communities live and die depending on connectivity. Rural communities need to be able to depend upon post offices for timely deliveries, not more delays."

Farmers in particular cannot afford the kinds of significant mail delays they experienced over the summer, when Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's implementation of new policies delayed delivery of livestock, Hildreth said. In some instances, delays resulted in the deaths of baby chicks and other animals that were shipped through the mail. FedEx and UPS do not deliver livestock.

He said he was concerned that the consolidations could result in a return to last year's problems. "Nothing that I've read from [the Postal Service] statement looks good at this point," Hildreth said. "It seems like there's a deliberate attempt to break the post office so that private industry can complain about the post office being broken."

The Postal Service said in a statement that consolidating the postal sorting facilities is not expected to delay Express or Priority mail and that it will not result in layoffs. The statement said the Postal Service will look to "repurpose" the 18 facilities facing consolidation "for package processing, given the increase in package volume."

The Postal Service said it is also working to boost efficiency by procuring 138 package processing sorters and leasing 45 annex facilities near mail facilities, which are expected to help with package overflow needs.

President Joe Biden's three nominees to the Postal Service's Board of Governors will move to a vote in the full Senate this week after having been approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The nominees, Anton Hajjar, Amber McReynolds and Ronald Stroman, were approved in an 8-4 vote.

If they are confirmed, they will be on a board that will help determine the fate of DeJoy. The nominees did not indicate during confirmation hearings whether they would favor firing DeJoy. Since he took on the postmaster general's position last summer, DeJoy has come under fire for his role in the slowdown in mail delivery, and multiple high-profile members of Congress, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., have called for his removal.

Longtime postal workers, like Cash, are hopeful that the post office can get back to the business of delivering mail on time.

"Our focus has always been about getting the mail to the customer, about connecting people with goods, services, communication," Cash said. "Now everything is about the bottom line, everything is about money, and we've lost the service part. We're going to chase our customers away, and they're not going to be able to get mail delivered."

A Senate committee on Wednesday approved President Joe Biden’s three nominees to the governing board of the U.S. Postal Service. The nominees — Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, who leads the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union — now need to be confirmed by the full Senate before taking positions on the board.

The head of the post office law enforcement division running a covert social media collection program is expected to brief lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee Wednesday morning about its surveillance work.

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USPS admits it is spying on Americans by monitoring their social media

Daily Mail 28 April, 2021 - 01:38pm

By Katelyn Caralle, U.S. Political Reporter For Dailymail.com

Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale briefed lawmakers on the Oversight Committee Wednesday where he admitted to the USPS legal arm spying on Americans' social media

The U.S. Postal Service admitted during a Wednesday meeting to spying on citizens with its law enforcement arm, claiming it worked with other agencies to track Americans' social media posts.

Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale briefed lawmakers on the Oversight Committee regarding the program known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, but could not provide a date for when it was initiated.

'The Chief Postal Inspector was wildly unprepared for this briefing,' GOP Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina told DailyMail.com following the meeting with Barksdale.

The inspector was called for a briefing after iCOP was first made public in a report last week.

Yahoo obtained and published documents related to iCOP, which includes an operation where analysts page through social media sites to look for 'inflammatory' posts, including messages about planned protests.

Mace said Barksdale revealed the program has not led to any arrests thought it's still unclear how long it has been operating. 

'Analysts with the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically on March 20, 2021,' a March 16 government bulletin, marked as 'law enforcement sensitive', reads. 

The bulletin focuses on a March 20 protest, the World Wide Rally for Freedom and Democracy which demonstrated against COVID lockdowns. 

 In a government bulletin, distributed through the DHS's fusion centers, it details that the Internet Covert Operations Program (iCOP) analyzes social media sites for 'inflammatory' posts, including messages about planned protests

It includes screenshots of posts from Facebook, Parler, Telegram and other social media sites about protests

'Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts,' it continues, but later notes: 'No intelligence is available to suggest the legitimacy of these threats.'

Barksdale told the Oversight Committee that while the operation would continue, they would put an end to the bulletin.

The bulletin, distributed through the Department of Homeland Security's fusion centers, includes screenshots of posts from Facebook, Parler, Telegram and other social media sites about the protests.

It does not appear any of the posts from the bulletin, including one from an alleged Proud Boy, contain any threatening language.

Individuals, who were mentioned by name and other identifying information.

Former President Donald Trump and his allies continue to push claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election – specifically in relation to the mass amounts of mail-in ballots due to increased remote voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Mace, who serves on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, revealed that Barksdale claims iCOP isn't a real 'program' at USPS because it's 'incident-related' not an ongoing matter, but the social media operation is being overseen by an 'executive.'

Barksdale also said he doesn't know how much money is being allocated for the spying initiative, Mace said, and would not say during the briefing which agencies are coordinating with USPS.

The USPS was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In August 2020 it reported losing $2.2 billion in the three months that ended in June.  

When reached about the law enforcement arm of USPS, the US Postal Inspection Service told Yahoo: 'The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the primary law enforcement, crime prevention, and security arm of the U.S. Postal Service.'

'As such, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has federal law enforcement officers, Postal Inspectors, who enforce approximately 200 federal laws to achieve the agency's mission: protect the U.S. Postal Service and its employees, infrastructure, and customers; enforce the laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use; and ensure public trust in the mail.

They added: 'The Internet Covert Operations Program is a function within the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which assesses threats to Postal Service employees and its infrastructure by monitoring publicly available open source information,.

'Additionally, the Inspection Service collaborates with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to proactively identify and assess potential threats to the Postal Service, its employees and customers, and its overall mail processing and transportation network.

'In order to preserve operational effectiveness, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service does not discuss its protocols, investigative methods, or tools.'

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Senate committee approves USPS board picks committed to 10-year reform plan | Federal News Network

Federal News Network 28 April, 2021 - 01:34pm

Hubbard Radio Washington DC, LLC. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

The Postal Service is one step away from having its first fully staffed Board of Governors in years, now that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has approved President Joe Biden’s three nominees to serve on the board.

The three nominees, if confirmed by the full Senate, would help USPS move ahead with the 10-year reform plan it released last month. The nominees, in a committee hearing last week, praised key features of the plan, while expressing wariness about elements of the plan that could hurt delivery standards.

Their confirmation would also overturn a Republican majority on the board. The nominees, however, told HSGAC members that no one in the Biden administration sought a commitment to fire Postmaster General Louis DeJoy or discussed his performance.

The nominees are Ron Stroman, the former deputy postmaster general; Anton Hajjar, a former attorney for the American Postal Workers Union; and Amber McReynolds, the former director of elections in Denver and the chief executive of the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute.

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Several Republican committee members voted against all three nominees. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) voted against full terms for all three nominees, but voted in favor of a partial term for Stroman that would end this December.

Johnson said he voted against full terms for the nominees because the Biden administration didn’t submit a slate of bipartisan picks. Stroman and Hajjar are both registered Democrats, and McReynolds is a registered independent.

“It’s not really an indication on the individuals, it’s just we shouldn’t be doing a completely partisan slate of three” governors, Johnson said.

All three nominees told the committee in their confirmation hearing last week they’re committed to keeping USPS self-funded and self-sufficient. Stroman, however, said USPS must work with Congress to pass legislation that would eliminate its 2006 mandate to pre-fund retiree health benefits well into the future.

“Ultimately, part of the financial stability of the Postal Service rests in Congress’s passing postal reform. And in order for that to happen, Congress needs to understand and communicate clearly with the Postal Service,” Stroman said.

Hajjar said the USPS must focus on addressing “unacceptable” deteriorations in mail delivery, which he said the 10-year plan addresses. He did, however, criticize some elements of the plan.

“It’s right there in the Postmaster General’s 10-year plan, that he wants to bring back the confidence of the American people in the Postal Service. I think that has to be the first priority. A lot of important aspects of the 10-year plan — some of them are slightly conflicting,” Hajjar said. “The number-one thing, I think, is to restore service so that people do not have their confidence shaken in the ability of the Postal Service to deliver effective, timely, reliable service.”

As for other elements of the plan, such as an ongoing consolidation of mail processing facilities, Hajjar said those changes have not gone well in the past.

        Read more: Agency Oversight

“We know from the last round of consolidations that service plummeted, and we’re still suffering with the deterioration of service that came from that. So that has to be taken into account when offices are consolidating. The communities have to be consulted specifically, and those views have to be taken into account,” Hajjar said.

McReynolds said her top priority, if confirmed, would be ensuring USPS upholds its obligation to provide “prompt, reliable and equitable service” throughout the country, particularly in rural communities.

“Rural communities are essential in terms of any changes that get put forward with the network or even service. And we have to maintain it, and we have to maintain the universal service obligation that is outlined clearly in the law. And it’s important, I also believe, to engage rural stakeholders directly on what is important to them, what they need, what they don’t have access to now, and look for opportunities that are creative and innovative, to better serve them,” McReynolds said.

Stroman also praised the 10-year plan’s focus on putting more non-career USPS employees on a career track, which he said would decrease turnover and provide a more reliable headcount of workers.

“Non-career employees save you some money, but they do hurt you on the service side, because the turnover there is very high,” he said.

USPS hired 200,000 temporary workers during its peak holiday season late last year, but DeJoy said last month that those hires never moved the needle on the agency’s overall headcount. USPS over the past year has also dealt with a critical shortage of employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nominees also expressed a commitment to grow revenue and explore new lines of business at a time when total mail volume is down more than 23% over the past decade.

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Stroman proposed USPS work with the Small Business Administration to better tailor its mail and package services to small businesses.

“This is particularly important coming out of the pandemic. And I think if the Postal Service can strengthen its IT infrastructure, it provides just a tremendous opportunity to be able to improve its relationship with small businesses and help grow the business,” he said.

Hajjar also highlighted the plan’s focus on building up its package business and offering additional government services — such as passport services and identity proofing — to increase traffic to post offices.

“That is hopeful. It’s complicated. It may require a whole different network to perform it. But that’s one thing,” Hajjar said about the agency’s package business. “Providing services in post offices where there is a need is also a helpful way to capitalize on the networks that exist in the Postal Service.”

Jory Heckman is a reporter at Federal News Network covering U.S. Postal Service, IRS, big data and technology issues.

Follow @jheckmanWFED

Copyright 2021 Hubbard Radio Washington DC, LLC. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

United States Postal Service looking to hire 200 people in the Cleveland area

WKYC.com 28 April, 2021 - 11:57am

CLEVELAND — *Editor's Note: The video is in the player above is from a previous story. 

The United States Postal Service is in the process of hiring 200 people to fill positions throughout the Cleveland area.

The postal service will host a job fair at the United States Postal Service (USPS) Administrative Building located at 2000 Orange Avenue, on Sunday, May 2. The job fair will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

Postal human resource specialists will be on site at the job fair to answer any questions and provide further details on the positions they are hoping to fill.

Available positions include: city carrier assistants, rural carrier associates, postal support employees, mail handler assistants, and tractor trailer operators. A Class (A) commercial drivers license (CDL)  is required for tractor trailer operators.

In these roles, employees perform mail handling, mail processing, driving, mail delivery or a combination of duties, as required. The starting salary for these open positions is between $16.87 and $23.74 per hour.  

Applicants must be 18 years or older and able to pass a background check and medical assessment.  

Those interested should complete an online application and then click the save tab ahead of the fair. Applicants should check their email daily for USPS messaging regarding further employment and applicants should check the post office website for updated openings and information.

There is no fee to apply to work at the United States Postal Service. 

For more information about postal jobs, click here

Notifications can be turned off anytime in the browser settings.

Senate panel approves Biden nominees to Postal Service board

Yahoo News 28 April, 2021 - 10:19am

The nominees — Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general; Amber McReynolds, who leads the nonprofit National Vote at Home Institute; and Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel of the American Postal Workers Union — now need to be confirmed by the full Senate before taking positions on the board.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the nominees without debate. Last week, Stroman, McReynolds and Hajjar appeared before the panel for a hearing in which they stressed the need to restore confidence in the Postal Service with a clear plan to improve delivery service.

The nominations could potentially shake up the Postal Service at a time when Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Republican Party donor, pushes a controversial overhaul of mail operations. If approved, the trio would give Democrats and Democratic appointees a majority on the governing board.

DeJoy and board Chairman Ron Bloom, a Democrat, last month debuted a 10-year strategy meant to save the Postal Service from a projected $160 billion loss over the next decade.

The sweeping plan would relax the current first-class letter delivery standard of one to three days to a benchmark of one to five days for mail going to the farthest reaches of the postal network. Postal leaders have said 70% of mail would still be delivered within three days. The plan also includes investments in a new fleet of delivery vehicles and a proposal to consolidate underused post offices and hints at a potential postage rate increase.

Democrats have slammed the strategy as an unacceptable degradation of service and have renewed longstanding calls for DeJoy to step down.

DeJoy has drawn intense criticism since taking the job last summer and implementing a series of policy changes that slowed deliveries before the 2020 Election, as unprecedented numbers of voters were preparing to cast ballots through the mail because of the coronavirus pandemic. After the election, the agency said more than 99% of ballots were delivered to election officials within five days.

Months later, DeJoy again found himself the subject of scrutiny when delivery times plummeted during the holiday season and into the new year. Agency data shows service rebounding after the holiday decline, with national on-time rates improving from 64% in January to 87% in the beginning of April.

Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York.

Associated Press coverage of voting rights receives support in part from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Samantha Power, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development. Power, who was nominated by President Joe Biden, was confirmed in a bipartisan vote of 68-26. "I'm confident her experience, tenacity and drive to build a better, more prosperous, peaceful world are exactly what USAID and our country need at this moment," Bob Menendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.

Postal workers and advocates for rural communities fear delivery delays, but the Postal Service said the consolidations will provide for "more efficient and reliable performance."

Kimmel also has a theory that would help explain the Fox News host.

A top election official in Georgia rebuffed claims that his office is not cooperating with prosecutors investigating former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of last November’s election.

The Senate voted 49-45 on Tuesday evening to confirm Colin Kahl as undersecretary of defense for policy.Why it matters: Kahl is the third of President Biden's Pentagon nominees to be confirmed by the Senate, but faced one of the most contentious confirmation processes so far for the new administration, reports Politico.Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.The big picture: Kahl previously worked at the Pentagon as a top Middle East policy official and also served as national security advisor to Biden during the Obama administration, per Politico.Kahl's nomination faced fierce Republican opposition on the basis of some of his policy opinions in the Middle East, including support for the 2015 Iran Deal and opposing former President Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.He had also previously landed in hot water over social media posts criticizing the GOP.Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.

These 5 companies haven't missed on earnings in 5 years. Amazing.

Defense attorneys for accused Capitol rioters will be able to take tours of the complex — led by Capitol Police officers — and take photos in public areas.

Workers in Bengaluru’s garment industry are facing a dire situation. The city is home to one of the biggest clusters of garment manufacturers in India, employing some 500,000 workers. A large share are women, including many migrants from nearby villages and other areas who depend on the low wages they earn to feed themselves and their families.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged three men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.Why it matters: The plot, which allegedly involved use of bombs, was intended to kill Whitmer, according to officials.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeFederal agencies including the Justice Department and Pentagon have warned that domestic extremism is on the rise and poses a serious threat.How it happened: The alleged conspiracists repeatedly visited her home, trained with firearms and explosive devices and even built and detonated bombs, according to the FBI.The FBI said agents thwarted the plot, and has seized over 70 firearms, 1,000 rounds of ammunition and key bomb components from the people charged in the plot, the Detroit News reports.The new indictment alleges that the three men planned to use bombs to disarm Whitmer's security detail and any responding law enforcement.Adam Fox, Barry Croft and Daniel Harris each face one weapon of mass destruction charge, which is punishable by up to life in prison.Defense lawyers have argued that the men were merely exercising their First Amendment rights and never carried out any part of the plot.The big picture: 14 people face charges in state and federal court for alleged involvement in the plot. The group intended to overthrow the government and targeted Whitmer because members believed she was violating the U.S. Constitution, per an FBI affidavit. More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

It’s not every day you can score Ina Garten-approved kitchen items for less, but today’s your lucky day. Thanks to Macy’s Friends and Family sale, you can snag a bunch of All-Clad cookware—one of the Barefoot Contessa’s favorite cookware brands— for up to 30 percent off. Whether you’re looking for a complete set or just […]

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Danielle Alberti/AxiosFederal officials announced Monday that Minnesota narrowly beat out New York to hold onto all 8 of its congressional seats for the next decade. Why it matters: Most demographers and political leaders expected the North Star State to finally lose a seat based on population estimates. That downsizing would have meant less clout in Washington. Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.The 89 residents New York needed to count to surpass Minnesota and snag the 435th seat was the closest margin in decades. How shocking was the outcome? "Our entire office gasped," one political insider texted Axios after the results were announced.What happened: It will take more time and analysis to understand what exactly bumped the state over the edge, but many are speculating that its nation-leading Census response rate played a role. "We dodged the bullet for another decade, keeping our 8th seat!" Peter Wattson, a longtime legislative redistricting expert, wrote in an email blast to advocates and media. "Congratulations to all Minnesotans for counting ourselves so well."Other factors — including COVID-19 deaths in New York at the start of the pandemic and a chilling factor from failed efforts to add a citizenship question — could have contributed, as MPR News notes.Between the lines: Congressional incumbents are also breathing easier. Going to seven seats would have triggered a major overhaul of the state's political map in the upcoming redistricting process — and a game of musical chairs for members.Some changes are inevitable, but they'll be less drastic, especially if the maps are eventually designed by the courts as expected. Of note: Minnesota's new official population, as of April 1, 2020, is 5,709,752. That's up 7.6% since 2010. It's now just 200,000 people away from passing Wisconsin — and growing twice as fast. What's next: Full Census data showing the trends in Minnesota and beyond will be released later this year.Those figures will be used to craft new congressional, legislative and local districts ahead of the next elections.More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

A federal judge seen as a possible future U.S. Supreme Court nominee said on Wednesday her identity as a Black woman does not affect how she approaches legal issues relating to race as she testified at a Senate confirmation hearing for her selection by President Joe Biden to serve on an influential appeals court. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee after being nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to replace Attorney General Merrick Garland on the bench.

Federal authorities executed a search warrant on the apartment of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, as part of an investigation into his business and other dealings with officials in Ukraine, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. Other outlets, including CNN, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, […]

When President Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate, there were whispers about her ambition — would a former rival be a loyal soldier to a president she so sharply criticized on the campaign trail? Harris has become one of the administration’s most prominent advocates for Biden's agenda, standing alongside him at most of his major announcements and building a relationship that aides say is closer than most presidents had with their seconds-in-command. Harris has taken on one of the administration’s toughest tasks — addressing the root causes of migration to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America.

The first Senate hearing for President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations featured two African American nominees for appeals court openings, giving Democrats an early chance to promote racial diversity on the bench and provide a contrast to the Trump era, when no Blacks were among the 54 such judges confirmed. The Biden nominees said Wednesday they did not believe race would play a role in their decisions, though they said diversity helps increase confidence in the courts. “Over the course of the prior administration, our federal judiciary became markedly less diverse," said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

While much of the attention on President Joe Biden's proposed $1.8 trillion American Families Plan has been focused on education, child care and paid family leave, it also includes some tax goodies...

"Deputies should take reasonable steps to move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm."

Amazon.Com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) introduced the all-new Fire Kids Pro tablets for kids aged six and twelve and the next generation Fire HD 10 Kids tablet for kids aged three and seven. Fire Kids Pro is a reasonably priced kids tablet, including a full-featured Fire tablet, a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ with an expanded selection of content for older kids, a slim protective case, and a two-year guarantee. Fire HD 10 Kids included a Fire HD 10 tablet offering up to twelve hours of battery life, USB-C for easy charging, 10.1" HD display, and fast performance. The Fire Kids Pro tablets start at $99.99 for the Fire 7 Kids Pro, $139.99 for the Fire HD 8 Kids Pro, and $199.99 for the Fire HD 10 Kids Pro. The next-generation Fire HD 10 Kids is priced at $199.99. Amazon also announced brighter, thinner, and lighter Fire HD 10 and Fire HD 10 Plus with an octa-core processor for fast and responsive performance, 50% more RAM, and all-day battery life for $149.99. It included new apps, features, and accessories, including a Productivity Bundle with the Fire HD 10, a Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) 365 Personal subscription, and a detachable keyboard case. Price action: AMZN shares traded lower by 0.17% at $3,404.1 on the last check Tuesday. See more from BenzingaClick here for options trades from BenzingaGucci, Facebook Slap Joint Lawsuit Against Unnamed Counterfeit SellerAmazon Extends In-Garage Grocery Delivery In Over 5,000 Cities© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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